Making Space for Writing: ROW80 Goals

Last year, I was very busy with Life — not in a bad way, but it meant I didn’t do a whole lot of writing. This year, Life has settled down (knock wood). So I’m taking a step back, refocusing and recommitting to what it is I really want to do with myself. Which is write.

Specifically, I want to make more space for my writing. I hear myself constantly complaining about how busy I am. My house is cluttered so there’s no room to think. The Internet is an ever-present demon. And the writing I am getting done feels like it has stagnated because I’m not sinking into it as deeply as I could be.

So I am declaring this the Year of Priorities, AKA Project: Making Space.

It’s a multi-pronged problem, so I’ll be making a multi-pronged attack.


First step: ROW80 (A Round of Words in 80 Days). This is a writing challenge where, unlike NaNoWriMo, each participant declares his or her own goal. It runs for 80 days, then takes a break and starts again. That means it’s not a mad coffee-fueled dash like NaNo. As I understand it, you’re supposed to take ROW80 a little slower, integrate your goal into your normal life, and work towards building habits.

My ROW80 goal: To spend 5 hours a week writing and/or editing.

(A week is counted as Monday to Sunday. Related tasks such as researching, brainstorming, and outlining may or may not count, or I may count them as half time, or something.)

I’m tempted to talk about gradually raising the goal, or about how much I hope to accomplish by the end of the 80 days, but I won’t. I have a long history of setting unrealistic goals, or “product” goals that don’t take into account the length of the process, and then beating myself up when I miss them. So this time I’m starting simple.

My current projects are:

  • Writing, editing, and posting a serial story for Turtleduck Press (I’m just finishing up Part 4 of a planned 5)
  • Editing a novel (I’m about 1/3 of the way through an intensively edited second draft)

But again, I’m only setting “process” goals for now.

I will say, though, that I intend to do those 5 hours a week in bigger chunks. In the past I’ve sometimes written in sprints of 10 or 15 minutes, which is great as far as it goes, but it’s not conducive to sinking deeper into the story. So I’m going to aim for an hour at a time, but again, that’s not an official part of the goal.

One of the Life things I’m doing is working on Turtleduck Press. As a member, part of my duties involves writing short stories, which will count towards my goal. Another part of my duties is editing other members’ novels, which will not count — I like doing it, but it doesn’t get my own writing out there any faster. Writing blog posts also will not count — only fiction.

Wednesday Check-In

I’ve done 2 hours so far this week — an hour each of writing and editing. It might have been more, but I had to skip Monday because of wrist problems. Still, I’m on track to hit 5 hours.

Other #ROW80 Members

I’m doing #ROW80 with a couple of fellow Turtleduck Press authors:

Erin Kendall

Kit Campbell

You can see the rest of the ROW80 participants here.

Go show them some love!

In future posts I’ll be talking more about my 2013 (because I did accomplish a fair bit, even if it wasn’t writing, and I’d like to celebrate that) and my plans and reasons for refocusing in 2014. In the meantime…

Your turn! Are you feeling too busy? What are your priorities for 2014?


11 responses to “Making Space for Writing: ROW80 Goals

  1. You’ll have to let us know how ROW80 works out for you. I might try it myself sometime in the future.

  2. Mike, I’ll be sure to keep you all posted!

  3. I think I’ll give RoW80 a shot in the next phase. Right now I’m taking a break.

    Also, I can certainly identify with your time/making space issues. I’ve written numerous similar posts myself in the past. Good luck!

  4. I really enjoy your blogs Siri. I admire your dedication. I don’t find the time to always read them when you write them and then try to play catch up.

    Being retired I find I don’t have enough time to do everything that I want! And you work, write stories and edit other’s stories.

    I am far behind on movies too. I want to see Catching Fire and the latest Hobbit.

    I did enjoy “I Am Malala” very much. She is such a determined, courageous girl. And still young enough to be idealistic in spite of all the adversity she has faced.

    I really miss knitting, especially the social aspect. My hand won’t cooperate so I will try to pop by sometime.

    I hope you and Arvin are staying healthy in spite of this nasty weather and the sickness that seems to be everywhere these days.

    All the best for 2014 especially with your commitment to writing.


  5. Ellen, glad to hear I’m not alone, even if it’s companionship in the struggle….

    Janet, thanks for stopping by and leaving an update! Good to hear from you. I’m glad you’re reading and enjoying my blog. Thanks for the best wishes, and same to you!

  6. I definitely did end on a busy note in 2013 and ‘the craft’ was shoved to the side. I too have set the goal to get back into the habit of writing. It’s nice to know, once I begin to get back into it, that that love is still there. I think I’d be so lost if I found I didn’t enjoy creating anymore!

    [Apologies for below. My wordpress account is still registered with this email though I haven’t used it for a long time. I moved to Tumblr as Callie Weylin recently for a course I joined]

  7. Good luck and hope you can stick at it! NaNoWriMo is pretty intense – this seems more sustainable.

  8. Amazing! This year I am also narrowing my focus – though you probably couldn’t tell that from my listed goals.

    Also, I have a theme for 2014. Are you ready for this? This is my personal Year of the Great Declutter. My home, head, and heart have too much excess and one of my primary goals for the year is to rid our home of what we’re not using or don’t have a very good reason to keep. By doing so, my mind has more room to soar and expand and, of course, my heart will be lighter.

    Your goals sound great and I wish you all the best.

  9. Callie, I know what you mean about being lost if the joy of creation ever disappeared! In trying to re-establish the habit, one trick I’ve found helpful is reminding myself of how good it feels to create — even if I don’t feel like doing it, once I get started I’m almost always glad I made the effort.

    Bronwyn, that’s what I’m hoping — sustainability and building habits!

    Steph, I hear you on the Great Declutter! I’m a fairly recent homeowner (upgraded from a one-bedroom apartment), which means I have not enough furniture, especially storage-type furniture, and too much stuff lying around in boxes or on flat surfaces. So one of the plans for this year is to get more of one and less of the other. Good luck with your ROW80 as well!

  10. You go, girl! You’re inspiring me!

  11. Aww, thank you, Jodi!

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